By the way, I wanted to alert some people that Weebly emails was being sent to my spam mail in Gmail. I apologize for those who have tried to contact me and never got a reply until a few months later. I have finally figured how to put the filter on to make sure it all lands in my inbox mail. Technology!
Well, now that summer is soon approaching, I wanted to let everyone know that I'm available all year round, so if you have a summer holiday off and are worried about forgetting your ASL signing skills --- make an appointment with me via Skype (web-cam) or a videophone (or if local, in person) and then I can help you stay ahead of the game.
In this month's blog I want to answer a question I get a lot -
"How often should a student attend to an ASL class during the week?" According to the ASLTA article, they highly recommend three to five times a week and I absolutely agree.
Let's take my example of how I learned high-advanced sign language in just three months when I was 16 years old at the Deaf school named MSSD. I was exposed visually to ASL nearly 24/ 7 all year long. I shared a room with Deaf roommates; attended classes all day with Deaf teachers and classmates; participated after-school activities; during studies, I was supervised by Deaf staff; during meals I was chomping away with my mouth full and delighted I could still converse with Deaf friends in signs. With so many hours of exposure of ASL, your mind becomes a sponge for picking up a lot of subtle nuances in sign language. When I first walked in September of 1985 as a totally shy oral student and three short months later, confidently stood in front of the entire audience, I was stunned to learned I won the award with a certificate for being the best Rookie of the Year. If you want exact hours of how much ASL exposure I used to get - it was literally 16 hours of constantly seeing, living, breathing ASL. I'm grateful for such experience.
Meanwhile, since most adults do not have the luxury to be immersed in an ASL environment 24/7 - it seems sometimes over-crowded, fast-paced and limited interactive ASL classes will still leave missing gaps that leaves an ASL student puzzled in how to overcome certain hurdles like ASL classifiers, how to sign those pesky loan signs and how to fluently sign a story in an animated, time-saving style.
Most adults are understandably busy studying at colleges, working at part-time or full-time jobs or raising their children along with other errands --- finding the time to actually sit down and totally immerse yourself seems to overwhelm some people. However, after 16 years of witnessing vast numbers of ASL students efforts - I could tell those who patiently put in more hours of interacting with a Deaf person native signer and effort in upkeep with homework assignments I suggested --- and I'm excluding those who hang out with other non-native signers because it often has them picking up bad "hearing accent" habits that is difficult to shake off after a few years - would greatly benefit from frequent exposure from my ASL sessions. It's not about just memorizing how to sign ASL vocabulary; I will teach you cultural norms and share my linguistic insights in digestible chunks so that you'll eventually be able to assimilate everything you need to know to be prepared to fluently sign and interact with Deaf people. I train people to nearly how to see through Deaf eyes, so to speak.
ASL Tip for the month:
One of my challenge in tutoring ASL is not to "baby" people by slowing my signing speed. I do not recommend slowing down at all because it becomes a mental crutch for new signers to habitually see signs in an unnatural slow-motion mode. I will repeat myself as often as needed until you grasp the context.
Most students don't understand why I won't slow down --- for example - it's like you don't go to Italy and expect native Italian speakers to suddenly speak and pronounce slowly or even louder in hope you'd understand them. It trips people's mind forcing it to awkwardly shift back and forth from natural fluent spoken mode to the unnatural slow mode. Mastering a new language always has to be at a normal speed, placed in a real-life shared experience interactive relating with total physical response (TPR) of objects around us and combining the cultural norms, in a question and answer dialoging format, plus studying body language and recognizing patterns - suddenly the new language will all click together. The exact same thing happens in mastering American Sign Language. I help you to recognize those invisible or complicated patterns that seems to be overlooked by most students.
As of May, 2011 - I teach all year round - MST - 10am to 7pm during the weekdays. I may be able to teach late night classes for those who has difficulty finding an ASL class that does not fit their schedule - do note it will be $5 extra per hour after my normal working hours.
Call me to make an appointment at 970-373-5354; leave a message with your full name, email address and phone number and I'll get back with you ASAP. Thanks and have a great Spring season!